It’s your special day–of course you want to celebrate with your BFFs. They want to celebrate with you, too! But, as you’ve seen from planning your own wedding, the cost can be overwhelming. Helping your bridesmaids save money relieves some of the pressure, and lets them enjoy your wedding just a little bit more.
The average bridesmaid will spend $1,000 to be in your wedding. While that number can vary drastically based on location and other wedding-related events, this is still an unplanned expense for your bridesmaids. (Who may be in school, working part-time, or supporting a family.) There are some really simple ways to help your bridesmaids save money that won’t affect your planning of the perfect wedding.
However you choose to help your bridesmaids save money, make sure you have an honest conversation about expectations. Your close friends may not be able to afford the wedding, but don’t want to let you down. Or this might be their first one, and they don’t know what costs to expect. Communication is key for everyone to have a blast planning, shopping, and celebrating!
1) Relax on the dress code
The average bridesmaid dress is priced at $150, and that doesn’t factor in shoes or accessories. Aside from travel, this is the most expensive part of being in a wedding. (It might even be the most expensive part of your wedding!) Traditionally, a bride would choose the exact dress her gal pals would wear, hands down, no questions asked. But if your bridesmaids get to choose their own dress or skirt or pant suit, they can find one that’s within their budget–without compromising your wedding theme.
Bonus Tip: Always specify the material, too. Baby blue chiffon isn’t the same color as baby blue charmeuse.
Select an affordable skirt for your gal pals to wear, and then let them pick the top–just communicate any color or style preferences. They can buy something new for the occasion, or use something they already own. Or you can choose a color and length–like navy blue cocktail dress–and let everyone pick their own dress. Each dress will be a different style, but the color will match. This works best if everyone buys from the same store, so the color is consistent–especially for out-of-town bridesmaids.
2) Minimize the accessories
We briefly mentioned this before, but it’s worth exploring a little more. Having a unified wedding party is more than just matching (or close-to-matching) dresses. Shoes and jewelry have a big impact as well. If one gal pal wears bright pink shoes when everyone else’s are white, it’s going to throw off the entire group.
That being said, the accessories aren’t as important as the dress. You can get away with a generic “white flats” or “beige heels” and, as long as everyone adheres, everyone will match. Much like the dresses, bridesmaids save money by choosing shoes within their budget or from their closet. If there’s a special bracelet or pair of earrings you really want everyone to wear, consider giving them as a thank-you gift at the rehearsal dinner. That way, your bridesmaids save money and feel appreciated!
3) Give plenty of notice
The sooner your bridesmaids know, the sooner they can start saving money. This might mean setting aside money into their own form of a wedding fund. But it can also mean booking flights and hotels earlier, or starting the dress hunt sooner. Bridesmaids dresses should be ordered about six months before the Big Day. There may be a little wiggle room if they’re shopping at a retail store, or buying at Etsy or similar boutique.
It might seem like a lot of time, but six months also factors in time for alterations. And the shorter the turnaround time, the higher the price. Definitely not a way to help your bridesmaids save money!
4) Don’t stress the gifts
Being in a wedding party isn’t usually considered a gift–after all, your gal pals can decline the invite if they’re schedule or budget doesn’t have room. But gifts don’t always have to cost money, or come from your registry. If one bridesmaids is an artist, ask them apply their specialty to a picture of you and your fiancé. If they’re in marketing, put them in charge of your wedding hashtag and wedding website. Or if they’re a lawyer, see if they can help jump-start your new business. Aside from helping your bridesmaids save money, you also get to support them a little, too.
If that sounds too complicated to coordinate on top of a wedding (it’s a lot of work!) create a bridesmaid-only registry. Ask each of them to buy you a copy of their favorite book, album, or movie. You can listen to or watch it together after the honeymoon is over, and it keeps their budget small. Everyone wins!
Your big day is important, and you certainly don’t want to sacrifice your dream wedding so your bridesmaids save money. But you also don’t want your BFFs focusing more on the price tag than the celebration. Finding a happy middle ground means your bridesmaids are fully present, and your wedding is nothing but perfect.
What are some other ways to help bridesmaids save money? We definitely didn’t list every single one of them! Share your thoughts with us below.